How to Manage the Pace of Your Change

Are you way ahead of your employees when it comes to adopting change? It’s easy to understand why and how this happens. Change leaders typically come on board early, create & confirm the business case and sign off on the workplan long before employee engagement starts. As a leader, it’s so easy to forget that you’ve been on board with the change and have had time to process it; however, you’re 7 steps down the road and employees are starting at Step 1!

One way we describe the change journey is to look at it through the lens of the change curve. Many leaders forget that they’ve already had time to understand a big change and the details behind it…while employees aren’t yet aware. We often use the Bridges Transition Model (pictured here) to explain the stages that individuals go through when they experience Change.

So how do you know where you’re landing? Here are some ways to think broadly about each of the “phases” of change and where people are:

  • Awareness – people are informed that a change is underway – they have a conceptual understanding/ basic information about what the change is, why it’s important
  • Understanding – the audience understands the details and how it specifically impacts them (how their work will change)
  • Acceptance – implementation has begun and adoption increases until it reaches a “critical mass”. Change stabilizes and early results, testimonials demonstrate positive outcomes
  • Commitment – this is now “the way we work”

Here are some tips for making sure that you are keeping pace with your employees (and not running at your own):

  1. Gather data to get the facts about where people are. Use surveys, focus groups and gather feedback from your employees instead of guessing and/or assuming
  2. Recognize that you have likely had significant time to process, while employees haven’t had that time. Give employees the grace of taking a little time to absorb change as they become aware.
  3. Get face-to-face with employees and ask. It may seem intuitively obvious, but many leaders fall into the trap of just talking to other leaders who are on the same page and assume all is well.
  4. Don’t fall into “I told them once, let’s move on” mentality – communicate early, often, and repeat, repeat, repeat.


Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at or on Twitter @sbPResults.